It’s that time of year, again, when Speculative fiction writers trot out our reminders of the stories that have been published during the year. Stories we’d like you to read, and if you have the ability to do so*, to consider nominating for any of the SF/F/H awards for 2018.
Although my novel, Ink, was rereleased this year by Rosarium Publishing — with new content and a beautiful new cover — it’s ineligible for any award because it was originally issued in 2012. But I believe Vincent Sammy is eligible for Ink’s cover art, and I urge you to consider nominating him for a Best Professional Artist Hugo, because the artwork he created for my novel is gorgeous.
Okay, onto the stories of mine I’d love for you to read, and consider nominating.
The Life and Times of Johnny the Fox
(3,932 words – short story category)
I am here to tell you the truth about Johnny the Fox.
If you’ve heard the tale that he was born in Puerto Rico, to one human and one inhuman parent, that is true.
Johnny’s mother is from the western port city of Mayagüez, where she lives to this day. His father is the northeasterly trade wind that regularly sweeps in and plays along Puerto Rico’s northernmost shore and outlying islands.
Many years ago—but not so many that there aren’t some folks who still remember—the two met in Arecibo and fell grandly and recklessly in love. The product of their union loves this story, by the way. Johnny the Fox is fond of saying that if you dig under all the hard layers of his being, you’ll come to a core that is pure, molten romance. And, really, what could be more romantic than a wind that becomes human to woo its beloved?
But a cynical wink is never far from any of Johnny the Fox’s tales, so remember: love has never been enough to permanently tame, or even reroute, the wind.
Published in Knaves: A Blackguards Anthology by Outland Publications, which will be available in eBook form in December, “The Life and Times of Johnny the Fox” is part trickster tale, part tall tale, and part rumination on the resilience of Philadelphia’s Puerto Rican community after the devastation of Hurricane María.
The character of Johnny the Fox first made his appearance in my story Skin in the Game (Tor.com, 2014), and I knew, even back then, that I would someday have to give him a story of his own. Gratifyingly, when I read “The Life and Times of Johnny the Fox” at Readercon this year, the audience seemed to be glad I had done so sooner rather than later.
The Devil in the Details
(6,585 words – short story category)
Deborah was a well-formed woman of twenty-six. Tall, long of leg, and wide of hip. Under the white muslin cap and black bonnet, her hair was arranged in thick, springy coils. Her dark eyes were kind but canny.
Like many of the women of the Pinelands, she had some wortcunning that she plied in an attempt to keep each of her twelve children alive through gripe and fever, abscessed tooth and bloody flux. That Deborah was more successful at this than most made her neighbors believe the family was especially blessed.
Her husband, some thirty years older than Deborah and bemused by the attention, was fairly certain they were cursed instead.
Published in Kaiju Rising II: Reign of Monsters by Outland Publications and available in print and eBook form also in December, “The Devil in the Details” starts in 1735 and ends in 2018, focusing on moments that (mostly) coincide with actual sightings of the Jersey Devil in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. But the Jersey Devil isn’t exactly what you’ve been led to believe…
I had a blast writing this. I hadn’t ever contemplated writing a kaiju story, and if editor Alana Joli Abbot hadn’t asked me to be part of this anthology, I probably never would have done so. But as with my stories The Ways of Walls and Words (Tor.com, 2015) and St. Simon of 9th and Oblivion (upcoming in The Latinx Archive anthology), the process of weaving speculative into historical ended up utterly engrossing me.
I’d also urge you to consider nominating Alana Joli Abbott (Kaiju II and Knaves) and Margrét Helgadóttir (see entry below) in the Best Editor categories. They richly deserve acknowledgement for their excellent work, their ultra-professional conduct, the care they take with the writer’s work, and their willingness to reach beyond “the usual suspects” when selecting authors for their anthologies.
Time’s Up, Cerotes
(7,741 words – novelette category)
When did I first notice she’d gone global?
I have to answer that question with a phrase I now understand is the lament of the middle-aged: I don’t remember.
After my first book was published, certainly.
Chapinlandia Meets Gringolandia in the Disneylandia of the 21st-century Newsroom never made me famous outside of certain journalism school circles, but it did get me on tour to different universities (and university bars). I thought I caught glimpses of her in Austin, Syracuse, L.A., Munich, Milan.
But I wasn’t certain until I saw her—this Guatemalan monster out of my past—in my hometown of Philadelphia.
It was at one of my usual joints—Cavanaugh’s in Center City—on the night Allison told me about her news director’s remote lockable door.
Published in American Monsters, Part I, by Fox Spirit Books (U.K.), this is another one of my stories that won’t become available until December.
Editor Margrét Helgadóttir focuses on Central and South American monsters in this volume — part of a series that has focused attention on African, Asian and European monsters (and which will culminate with a volume on North American monsters next year) — and has gathered a really stellar roster of writers that includes Brazilian writer Fábio Fernandes, Uruguayan writer Ramiro Sanchiz, and Argentine writer Tere Mira de Echeverría, among others.
“Time’s Up, Cerotes” splits its time between Guatemala City and Philadelphia, past and present, as it follows a Guatemalan journalist’s interaction with the legendary monster —La Siguanaba — from the homeland she left, and then returns to in pursuit of a story.
But just as the reality of the country we leave behind changes and becomes more complicated than our memories, so do our monsters…
Toward a New Lexicon of Augury
(6,978 words – short story category)
Black stone lying on a white stone.
I waste a hard-earned chit for public access to chase a clue that turns out to be poetry.
I will die in Paris, on a rainy day … perhaps on a Thursday, as today is Thursday, in autumn.
César Vallejo, the author of the poem “Black stone lying on a white stone,” was a Peruvian writer living in Spain in the 1930s when he succumbed to an infection turned totalitarian. The little I am able to read about him before the buzzer sounds and the next person in line nudges me out of the public access booth, indicates that the poet’s wife consulted with astrologers and wizards in an effort to cure the ailment that felled him.
She should have asked the brujas instead. You want to turn counsel to cunning, or wreck the world with a wyrd, ask the wizards. A massive mal puesto, on the other hand, calls for a witch.
Or even better, more than one.
“Toward a New Lexicon of Augury,” published at Apex Magazine in November, is about climate change, informal cities, poetry, resistance and love. Oh, and there be witches. 😉
You can read the full story by clicking here.
* Nebula nominations are open to SFWA active and associate members, Hugo nominations are open to supporting and attending members of last year’s, this year’s and next year’s World Cons, Locus awards are chosen by a survey of readers in an open online poll.